Contact Information

Stephen J. Whitfield
Brown 314
(781) 736-3035

Stephen J. Whitfield


Stephen J. Whitfield holds the Max Richter Chair in American Civilization. He holds a bachelor's degree from Tulane University, a master's from Yale University and a doctorate in the history of American civilization from Brandeis. He is currently serving as the program's undergraduate advising head.

Trained as an historian, he first encountered the field of American studies when he had to teach it, beginning in the fall of 1972 at Brandeis. His curricular and research interests are primarily in the intersection of politics and ideas in the 20th century.

Whitfield has twice been awarded Fulbright visiting professorships: first at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1983-84) and then at the Catholic University of Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium (fall semester 1993). He has also taught American studies twice at the Sorbonne (University of Paris IV), in the fall of 1994 and in the fall of 1998.

For a semester in 2004, he became the first Allianz Visiting Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich to offer courses in American Jewish studies. Such opportunities to teach and to live abroad have enhanced Whitfield's desire to place the understanding of the United States within an international perspective.

Whitfield is the author of eight books:

  • "Scott Nearing: Apostle of American Radicalism" (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974)
  • "Into the Dark: Hannah Arendt and Totalitarianism" (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980)
  • "Voices of Jacob, Hands of Esau: Jews in American Life and Thought" (Hamden, Ct.: Archon Books, 1984)
  • "A Critical American: The Politics of Dwight Macdonald" (Hamden, Ct.: Archon Books, 1984)
  • "A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till" (New York: Free Press, 1988)
  • "American Space, Jewish Time" (Hamden, Ct.: Archon Books, 1988)
  • "The Culture of the Cold War" (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991, rev. ed. 1996)
  • "In Search of American Jewish Culture" (Hanover, N. H.: University Press of New England, 1999)

He is also the editor of "A Companion to 20th-Century America" (Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell, 2004).

In 1993, Whitfield won the university's Louis D. Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and in 2008 he won the Student Union Teaching Award. Further, Professor Whitfield was awarded the Sachar Medallion of the Brandeis National Committee for contributions to education in 2013.

Selected Publications

scott nearing
the politics of dwight macdonald a death in the delta american space, jewish time
the culture of the cold war in search of american jewish culture  20th century america